Robotic cow teat sprayer recruited to produce Irish milk

21 Sep 2016

Row of cows being milked. Image: Toa55/Shutterstock

A recently developed R&D project that uses robots to spray a cow’s udders with an antibacterial solution post-milking has been rolled out to two farms in Ireland.

Irish milk has quite the reputation abroad with this small island recently confirmed as the second-largest supplier of baby milk formula to China. In order to keep up with demand, a faster and safer production system is needed.

To that end, a Northern Irish company called Pearson has developed a new technology to help prevent bovine mastitis, an inflammatory reaction found in dairy cows’ udder tissue.

Future Human

Typically during the milking process, a spray of antibacterial liquid would be applied to the udders manually by a farmer or person on hand. By using Pearson’s new device, this entire process could be done using a machine.

Known as the Robotic Automated Teat Sprayer, the device will integrate with existing milking systems to automatically spray the teat of the cow immediately after milking.

A bovine idea

The automated system has been found to be more effective at removing bacteria compared with previous systems, and is now making its way across the border in Ireland, with two customers who have purchased the €300,000 system.

The technology was developed with help from Invest NI, who offered nearly £45,000 towards the R&D, with additional support from the EU Investment for Growth and Jobs Programme 2014–2020.

Speaking on the concept, Andrew Brodison from Pearson said: “The R&D process was completely new to us and we wouldn’t have been able to do it and get our product to market as quickly without the support of Invest NI.

“We are really hopeful that more companies will realise the benefits of this new system. We are also already looking into developing another new product for a different sector.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic